صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

something for him to be iuformed, there still exists sufficient evidence of Homer's frequent allusion to this particular terri. tory, to remove, from the mind of any admirer of truth, all doubt upon the subject.

We landed at Koum-kalé, literally signifying Sand-castle, and hired borses for our expedition. The neck of land op which this place has been built is usually considered of recent formation, and it is true, that no soil has been yet accumula. ted. The castle stands, as its name implies, upon a foundation of sand ; but it may be nouiced, that the rapidity with which the waters of the Hellespont pass these straits, must pre vent any considerable deposit from the river near its mouth.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

General Observations on the Topography of Grecian Cities

Evidence of the Trojan War independent of Homer-Identity of the PlainImportance of the Text of Strabo-Plan of the Author's Expedition River MENDER— Tomb of Ajax-Cement used in the AIANTEUM---Plants-Halil Elly-Inscription-Thymbreck-Tchiblack--Remarkable Ruins-Probable Site of Pagus ILIENSIUM--and of Cal LICOLONERoute from the BEYAN MEZALEY-Ancient Sepulchre and Natural Mound-Opinion concerning SimoësPrevalent Errors with regard to Scamander-Ruins by the CalliFAT OSMACK-Inscriptions-Village of Callifat-Medals--Remains of New llium.

A PECULIAR circumstance characterized the topography of the cities of ancient Greece; and this, perhaps, has not beer considered so general as it really was Every metropolis possessed its citadel and its plain; the citadel as a place of refuge during war; the plain as a source of agriculture in peace. To this were some exceptions, as in the instance of Delphi, whose celebrity originated in secondary causes; but they were few, and may be omitted. In the provinces of Greece, at this day, the appearance caused by a plain, flat as the surface of

the ocean, surrounded by mountains, or having lofty rocks in its centre or sides, serves to denote the situation of ruivs proving to be those of some ancient capital. Many of these plains border on the sea, and seem to have been formed by the retiriog of its waters. Cities so situated were the most ancient ; Argos, Sicyon, Corinth, are of the number. The vicinity of fertile plains to the coast offered settlements to the earliest colopies, before the interior of the country became known. As population increased, or the first settlers were driven inward by new adventurers, cities more Mediterranean were established; but all of these possessed their respective plaing. The physical phenomena of Greece, differing from those of any other country, present a series of beautiful plains, successively surrounded by mountains of limestone ; resembling, although upon a larger scale, and rarely accompanied by volcanic products, the craters of the Phlegræan Fields. Everywhere their level surfaces seem to have been deposited by water, gradually retired or evaporated; they consist, for the most part, of the richest soil, and their produce is yet proverbially abuodant.

In this manner stood the cities of Argos, Sicyon, Corinth, Megara, Eleusis, Athens, Thebes, Amphissa, Orchomenus, Chæropea, Lebadea, Larissa, Pella, and many others. Pur suing the inquiry over all the countries bordering the Ægean, we find every spacious plain accompanied by the remains of yome city, whose celebrity was proportioned to the fertility of its territory, or the advantages of its maritime position. Such, according to Homer, were the circumstances of association characterizing that district of Asia Minor, in which Troy was situated.

With these facts in contemplation, it is unreasonable to suppose, that a plain, boasting every advantage which nature could afford, would offer an extraordinary exception to clistoms so general among ancient pations; that it should remain untevanted and desolate; and no adventurers occupy its fertile soil. It is still more difficult to believe, when the monuments of a numerous people, aud the ruins of many cities, all having reference, by indisputable record, to one more ancient, as their magna parens, have been found in such a plain, that the com. positions of any bard, however celebrated, should bave afforded the sole foundation of a belief that such a people and city did really exist. Among the gems, vases, marbles, and medals

, found in other countries representing subjects connected with

*

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

the Trojau war, yet destitute of any reference to the works of Homer, we meet with documents proving the existence of traditions independent of his writings ;* and in these we have evidence of the truth of the war, which cannot be imputed to his invention. With regard to other antiquities where coincideace may be discerned between the representation of the artist, and the circumstances of the poem, it may also be urged, that they could not all originate in a single fiction, whatever might have been the degree of popularity that fiction had obtained. Every sculptured onyx, and pictured patera, derived from sepulchres of niost remote antiquity in distant parts of all the isles and continents of Greece, cannot owe the subjects they represent to the writings of an individual. This were to contradict all our knowledge of ancient bistory and of mankind. It is more rational to conclude, that both the artist and the poet borrowed the incidebts they pourtray from the traditions of their country; that even the bard himself found, in the remains of former ages, many of the subjects afterward introduced by him among his writings. This seems evident from his description of the shield of Achilles; and, if it should be remarked, that works of art canuot be considered as having afforded representations of this nature in the early period to which allusion is made, it would be expedient to dwell upon this particular part of Homer's poem, and, from the minuteness of the detail, derive, not only internal evidence of an exemplar whence the imagery was derived, but also of the perfection attained by the arts of Greece in the period when the description was given. Later poets, particularly Virgil and Ovid, evidently borrowed the machinery of their poems from specimens ancient art, which even their commentators are

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

*"That the ancients differed as to the circumsiances of the Trojan war, is well known; and that some variations, even in the accounts of those who were actors in that scene, left the poet at liberty to adopt or reject facts, as it best suited bis por. pose, is highly probable.. • Euripides chose a subject for one of his plays, which supposes that Helen never was at Troy;... yet we cannot suppose that he would have desertel Homer without any authority

As the first poets differed with regard to the Trojan war, so their brother artists adopted variations."

Polygnotus did not always follow Homer.” Wond's Essay on Homer, pp. 183, 184

When the Persians, laying claim to all Asia, alleged, as the occasion of their enmity to the Greeks, the hostile invasion of Priam, and the destruction of Troy by Agamemnon, it cannot be said they borrowed the charge from the poems of Homer. Vid. Herodot. lib. i.

1 See also the remarkable description of Nestor's cup, in the eleventh book of the Iliad; and the observations relating it, in my G

her Work upon Roman and Saxon coins, Cowper acknowledged himself indebted to the learning and ingenuity of my ancestor for the new version introduced by him of a long-mistaken passage in Homer's description of that cup.

[ocr errors]

allowed to contemplate;* and in the practice existing at this day among itinerant bards of Italy, who recite long poems upon the antiquities of the country, we may observe customs of which Homer himself afforded the prototype. These observations are applicable only to the question of the war of Troy, so far as the truth of the story is implicated. The identity of the place where that war was carried on, so many ages ago, involves argument which can be supported only by practical observation, and the evidence of our senses. It will be separately and distictly determined, either by the agreement of natural phenomena with the locality assigued them by Homer, or of existing artificial monuments with the manners of the people whose history has been by him illustrated. To this part of the inquiry the attention of the reader is therefore now particularly requested.

It seems hardly to admit of doubt, that the plain of Anatolia, watered by the Mender, aud backed by a mountainous ridge, of which Kazdag hy is the summit, offers the precise territory alluded to by the poet. The long controversy, excited by Mr. Bryant's publication, and since so vehemently agitated, would probably never have existed, had it not been for the erroneous maps of the country, which, even to this hour, disgrace onr geographical knowledge of that part of Asia.

According to Homer's description of the Trojan territory, it combined certain prominent and remarkable features, not likely to be affected by any lapse of time. Of this nature was the Hellespont; the island of - Teñedos; the plain itself; the river by whose inundations it was occasionally overflowed ; and the mountain whence that river issued. If any one of these be found retaining its original appellation, and all other circumstances of association characterize its vicinity, our knowledge of the country is placed beyond dispute. But the island of Tenedos, corresponding in all respects with the position assigned to it by Homer, still retains its ancient name unaltered ; and the inscriptions, found upon the Dardanelles, prove those straits to have beep the Heilesport. The discovery of ruins, which I shall presently show to have been those of the Ilium of Strabo, may serve uot only to guide us

* Witness the discovery of the "caput acris equi" at the building of Carthage, and the death of Laocoon, as described by Virgil; as well as the metamorphoses of Ovid, whose archetypes are still discernible upon the ger

1 These men, called improvisatori, are seen in the public streets of cities in Italy, A crowd collects around them, when they begin to recite a long poem upon a cameo

an intaglio put into their hands. I saw one, in the principal square at Milan, who fus descented for an bour upon the loves of Cupid and Psyche.

of Greece.

which may

in our search after objects necessary to identify the locality alluded to by Homer, but perhaps to illustrate, in a certain degree, even the position of Troy itself; concerning whose situation, no satisfactory evidence has, in my opinion, resulted from any modern investigation. That it was not altogether unktown in the time of Augustus, is proved by the writings of Strabo, who, more than once, expressly assigns to the ancient city, the place them occupied by the village of the Iliepsiaps. The text of that author may now be considered as affording a safer clue in reconciling the description of Troas given by Homer with the existing realities of the country, than the poems of the bard himself; because the comment afforded by Strabo combines all the advantages of observation made eighteen centuries ago, both with regard to the country and the reference borne to its antiquities, by documents, written in a language

be considered as his own. The traditions of the couptry concerning the Trojan war vere pot then more remote from their origin, than are at this hour the oral records of England with regard to its first invasion by the Danes or Normans. Comparing the site of the place called Ilium in his time, with that of ancient Troy, Strabo says, (Ilus)“ did not build the city where it now is, but nearly thirty stadia further eastward, toward Ida and Dardavia, where the Iliensian village is now situated.” If, therefore, I shall hereaster succeed in ascertaining precisely the locality of the Ilium of Strabo, by the discovery of ruins which bear evidence of their being the remains of that city, a beacon will be established, whence with his bearings and distances, we may search with reasopable expectation of being able to point ont some even of the artificial monuments belonging to the plain. But further, if, with reference to the situation of Troy itself, having pursued the clue thus afforded, we find any thing to indicate the site of the village, where it was believed, in the time of Strabo, and where? he maintains, that apcient Ilium stood, we cannot be very far from the truth.

Previously, however, to the introduction of observations relating rather to the conclusion of our examination of the country, the reader may feel his curiosity gratisied by an account of our expedition, from the moment in which we landed at Koum-kalé. We had resolved to penetrate those recesses of the monntains, whence the principal river derives its origin ; & region then unexplored by any traveller: and afterward, by ascending Kazdaghy, the loftiest ridge of the whole chain, at

« السابقةمتابعة »